OLD SAYBROOK — The Harbor Management Commission is overseeing a project to renovate the Sheffield Street dock facilities on North Cove by early April, replacing two floating docks, adding a raised landing to avoid flooding during high tides, and new racks for dinghies and kayaks.
Harbor Management Commission Chair Robert Murphy said in a Thursday interview that these renovations are intended to make it easier for boaters to move their dinghies up to the dock and make the cove a more attractive destination for resident boaters and visitors. At any time, there are about 150 moorings in Old Saybrook’s North Cove, which connects to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.
The renovations include a new 6’ by 30’ gangway, and new 7’ by 24’ and 8’ by 28’ docks, according to bid documents prepared by the commission.
“Hopefully it will be more attractive to transient boaters if we have a nice facility for them to get off the boat, bring their dinghy up, and hopefully go into the town to get a coffee or for the grocery stores and restaurants,” Murphy said.
The project also calls for raising the land about 3’ where it meets the water and then tapering it back to the existing grade, Murphy said. Currently, the walkways near to the water flood at high tide more often than is ususal for these types of facilities, he said.
“All the facilities will experience some flooding from storms, but this one seemed to be once or twice a month during the moon tides,” Murphy said. “Is it useable? Yeah. But is it annoying to get your feet wet when you’re bringin your dinghy down? It is if you go at the wrong time.”
Murphy said that fees for moorings and town-owned slips will fund the project, at an estimated cost of about $100,000.
Earlier this week the Board of Finance approved the Harbor Commission’s choice of Connecticut River Dock and Dredge, an Essex-based company, to install the docks and perform the grading. In October, the commission chose the company Meeco Sullivan of Warwick, New York, to design the floating docks.
After Connecticut River Dock’s work is complete, Murphy said, a later phase of construction calls for replacing some existing racks at the facility that serve dinghies.
“The existing racks are pretty old so a third scope of work that we’re going to do, and all this done before April 1, is to demolish the existing racks and rebuild them,” Murphy said. “Then we’ll put some new fencing down there, have a thorough cleanup, and the entire surface will receive some loose blue stone treatment.”
The harbor commission voted this year to allow boaters to use the existing racks for kayaks. Murphy said the commission will be restarting that program with the new racks and that they’re expecting to work out policies for kayakers at the commission’s next meeting in January.
He said that they would most likely start with a test program for about a dozen people to store kayaks.
“We don’t anticipate a problem, but we want to take it slow,” Murphy said. “We can’t have the facility full of kayaks because the main purpose of that facility is to have a place for people with boats to have a space to store their dinghies.”
The project is expected to be finished at the beginning of April, which Murphy said is typically when boating season kicks off.
“That’s when we start installing moorings and people bring them down for inspection,” Murphy said. “What they’re going to see [this year] is a completely updated and more functional facility than they have there now. I think people will be pleased with the result.”
Murphy noted that the waitlist for mooring in North Cove — which can stretch to seven years — is shorter than usual at the moment.
“Right now that wait will be significantly shorter. So if people have an interest they should get on the waitlist now.”